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Elaine Hall Headshot

Lucky with Autism?

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All of this talk about luck, Lucky Charms, and all things green last week got me thinking about my luck meter and I realized that I am one of the lucky ones.

I have an 86 year-old Dad who has survived a series of strokes. I am the mother of a teenage son who has autism. I have a loving husband, who is a fantastic cook. I have incredible supportive friends, work that I love, and thank you, God, I am in good health.

Why did I lead with the two things that might be construed as "bad luck"? Wouldn't it seem that my Dad's strokes and my son's autism are unlucky things? And what do autism and strokes have in common?

Because of my son's autism, I am able to understand and be with my Dad's fragile condition without judgment, fear, or even sorrow. I can see my Dad as "whole" and as "all there", even if his brain is processing things differently these days.

There were times when people doubted my son's intelligence because he didn't speak. They discounted him, talked about him as if he wasn't there. I knew in my heart that he understood everything around him. It wasn't until he started using a choice board and typing that others started to acknowledge how smart he was.

People often comment that my Dad has lost his ability to think. They look at him with pity. I don't see him that way. I see my Dad as whole, just like I always saw my son, Neal as whole. My Dad's brain may function a little differently than it used to, but he's there. All there. He might not remember what he ate for breakfast this morning, but today he remembered that his father came from a part of Russia called, Uttich. And when I brought up my Dad's first date with my Mom, he laughed because she pretended to like baseball even though she didn't know a thing about it!

The other day my Dad and I laughed and played together; I pushed him fast in his wheelchair paralleling how fast he used to push me in my stroller. We have come full circle. My Dad who used to delight in entertaining his "little girl", teaching me about life's joys. I am an Adult Daughter today, sharing life's simple pleasures and reminding him all of the wonderful things about life that he taught me.

My son's autism has taught me so much, most importantly to cherish every minute; to see life as a miracle. To love, be loved.. To listen, and to laugh.

I invite you to share your miracles and your journey. How autism has helped shape your life in ways unimaginable? And how we can be lucky in ways that might appear to be just the opposite?

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